Assad Tour: Russian company wants to start selling trips to Syrian warzone in 2016
A Russian company says it plans to begin sending tourists to Syria, including visits to the frontline of the battle against terrorism, next year. It has already applied for registration of the ‘Assad Tour’ trademark.
The application to register Assad Tour – apparently, named after Syrian President, Bashar Assad – has already been submitted to Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks (Rospatent), Moscow City News Agency reported on Monday.
"The applicant, Megapolis Ltd., expects to launch tours from Moscow to Syria next year, with the possibility of a trip to the front line,” Anatoly Aronov – president of the First Patent Company, which assisted in filing the application – told the news agency.
The tours will be intended for individuals or small groups of tourists, lasting between four or five days, he said.
According to Aronov, the company has already contacted the Syrian Embassy in Russia and relevant ministries on the issue.
The talks with hotels and transport companies within Syria are currently underway, he stressed.
"Despite the crisis in the tourism industry, there are always people, who are willing to combine the cognitive goals with the opportunity to see natural disasters or visit the places located near the warzones," Aronov explained.
The Russian Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturizm), however, has not received such a submission, Izo Arakhamiya, the head of its legal department, told Interfax on Tuesday.
“There is no Assad Tour in the register and they haven’t filed an application. Therefore they are not authorized to sell these trips,” she said.
Sending tourists to conflict zones runs counter to Russian law, since the company can’t guarantee safety, Irina Tyurina, spokesperson for the Russian Travel Industry Union, told Interfax.
A deadly civil war is raging in Syria since 2011 as the government is fighting various terror groups, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Jabhat al-Nusra.
The violence saw over 220,000 people killed, 7.6 million internally displaced and 4 million fleeing the country, according to UN estimates.